The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that new Medicare cards will be mailed out starting next month.
The new cards are being issued to protect consumers from identity theft. With that in mind, Medicare is removing Social Security numbers from its cards and replacing them with a unique Medicare number.
The cards will be mailed in waves to various parts of the country from April 2018 until April 2019. Consumers can check the schedule to find out when they may be receiving their card. The cards will be sent to the address on file with the Social Security Administration.
The FTC is requesting that once the new cards are received, the old ones should be shredded immediately. However, separate Medicare Advantage cards need to be kept on hand since they'll be needed for treatment.
But as the new Medicare cards start being mailed, there might be an uptick in related scams. The FTC gave a few tips for how consumers can protect themselves from any theft, such as remembering that the new Medicare cards are completely free. A request for payment to get a new card is a sign of a possible scam.
In addition, consumers should not give out personal information in order to get their cards. Medicare will never ask for personal information in exchange for a new number and card. Upon receipt of the card, consumers should keep it in a safe place.
"While removing the Social Security number cuts down on many types of identity theft, you’ll still want to protect your new card, because identity thieves could use it to get medical services," according to the release.